by Jean Craighead George
Interests: wilderness survival, nature, arctic, animals, wolves, Inuit, First Nations, strong girls
Harper & Row: 1972
Sequels: Julie, Julie’s Wolf Pack
Also by this author: My Side of the Mountain, On the Far Side of the Mountain
Next: The Incredible Journey, Call it Courage, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Hatchet
A thirteen-year-old Inuit girl, raised in the traditional ways, runs away from an arranged marriage and struggles to survive an Arctic winter in the Alaskan wilderness. By befriending a pack of wolves and learning their ways, she survives many perils, but her biggest challenge is deciding which life to live – the traditional life of her ancestors or a new, modern life in white society.
An astonishing story, gripping and suspenseful, this gives an unvarnished look at the passing of traditional cultures. The details of what Julie/Miyax needs to do to survive aren’t always pretty either. The social relationships of the wolves are particularly fascinating, and the girl, through careful observation, is able to pick up on their cues and secure a tenuous spot within their family. Details of life in the tundra, and the ways of the various birds and beasts are well-told and realistic.
Readers as young as perhaps 8 could read this novel, however there is mature content in the flashback scene before Julie runs away – she flees after an attempted sexual assault by her young husband. While not particularly graphic, it could be disturbing for some readers.